Friday and Saturday we had 2nd series of sessions, which kicked off two new courses: Organisational Behaviour and Business Analytics.
Prof. Patrick Flood from Ireland teaches Organisational Behaviour. During the first session we discussed how to assemble and lead an executive team, the challenges related to it. We used Linda Hill’s Note on Building and Leading A Senior Team. Most of the guidelines for managing executive team sounded fairly similar to managing any other team.
To have an effective team, the CEO should manage the team’s boundary – managing relationships with external parties and monitoring competitions. Managing the team itself means facilitating the process and setting up an effective decision making structure. When measuring the team’s effectiveness, one should not only consider the team’s performance but also review how the team learns and adapts to new situations and how the individuals learn and gain satisfaction. Concerning the size, small teams (5-10) work more effectively than larger teams. Diversity in the teams encourage innovation, but it could also lead to politics and divergent behaviour.
While the note we read rejects the idea of flat organisational structure as “unrealistic and even undesirable”, in the second session we saw a counter example – the Orpheous Chamber Orchestra which doesn’t have an conductor. We discussed a video of the orchestra process in action. While not having a clear leader/conductor, the members of orchestra seem to have a shared-leadership. I felt the video did show a “core” orchestra members who decided the direction. It looked like the members need to spend additional effort and time to make sure that the orchestra functions effectively. The concept itself looked similar to Holacracy – which Zappos recently used to reorganise the company.
Prof. Patrick has one interesting observation about the stages that effective teams go through – Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing. Over 14 years, I did see these in action at various levels in almost every team, but never thought that these stages as a mandatory path for an effective team.
On Saturday we had the first session of Business Analytics, taught by Nicole Huyghe, the founder and managing director of Boobook. As a preparation, we studied the Big Data book and did a small exercise in descriptive statistics. During the session Nicole explained how to use statistical methods to understand the data. As usual, rather than focusing on too much theory, she explained the application of the techniques. I enjoyed the class, because I use statistics and Machine Learning during my day job and current project. We also touched upon hypotheses testing and regression models. The (mandatory) statistics refresher course helped in reviewing the managerial use of statistics.
Team Updates and Team Charter
This week our team had our first dinner! We discussed the life story and got some time to get to know each other. We also worked on team charter that we will use for the term 1. We had to pick a leader for our team, and we agreed that everyone gets to become the Leader to gain experience. My turn starts tomorrow and lasts for 2 weeks. I don’t expect difficulties in leading an awesome team where everyone has great enthusiasm and motivation.
Trip to South Africa
On Saturday, our team picked (won) Cape Town as our study trip destination via the lottery. Practically everyone in the class wanted to go to Cape Town. With my unfamiliarity with South Africa, I got confused why people got discouraged when they got Johannesburg as their destination. In any case, our team will fly to Cape Town in July for study trip.
In two weeks the programme continues with next sessions of Managerial Accounting and Organisational Behaviour.